The Dish

Dig into Sonoma Valley's vibrant culinary scene.

Fremont Diner

LEAVE YOUR DIET AND YOUR DRESS UP CLOTHES BEHIND.

At the Fremont Diner the portions are big. The biscuits are hot and fresh. The milkshakes are thick. The produce is fresh and locally grown. The meats are raised in the neighborhood, too. And the barbecue is a specialty. Yes, this is diner-style fine dining at its best.

It’s easy to miss the Fremont Diner as you head east on Highway 12 past Schellville through Carneros. (Who knew that stretch of Sonoma Hwy. is also called Fremont Drive? We didn’t, and we live here.) So keep an eye out for the clunky pick-up truck and the old school sign. Because, while it doesn’t look like much from the road, the Fremont Diner gets hip quick.

Just inside the swinging screen door there’s an old-fashioned photo booth and boxes of brands of candy you haven’t seen since you were a kid. And everywhere there are relics reminiscent of depression-era agriculture. It’s a roadside diner that harkens back to a day when farmers wore coveralls and people “motored.”

Look no further than the chalkboard walls to see what’s on the menu. Localvores will find a lot of familiar names. Niman Ranch. Della Fattoria. Drakes Bay Oysters. Bellwether Cheese. Owner Chad Harris says his commitment to sourcing from nearby purveyors has gone beyond just a “local thing” to a “family thing.” A small orchard on the property, next to the chicken coups, supplies most of the stone fruit, figs and citrus.

But don’t get the impression this is some dainty dish new age-y epicurean experience. Harris calls his food “Grandma Cooking.” So you can sit at the bar and order your “backyard eggs” with buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy, then dunk doughnuts made with local apples in your coffee. Come dinnertime, grab a picnic table and try your hand at the brisket plate. Order your Nashville chicken regular or spicy. Wash it all down with whatever suits your fancy, from a PBR Tall Boy to a Gloria Ferrer Private Cuvee Brut or Kopriva Chardonnay.

Your canine wine country companion is more than welcome here. You may, however, want to wrap the leash around your chair a little tighter when one of the errant chickens wander by. They have free range to roam among the outdoor seating.

Fremont Diner is a true taste of Sonoma County if there ever was one. “We’re a big time community here,” according to Harris. “We are all taking care of each other.” No doubt. Stop by the Fremont Diner and you’ll be well taken care of, too.